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Exclusive: State Trooper Suing Andrew Cuomo for Harassment Can Be Pseudonymous, Because the Case Is "High-Profile"

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No Pseudonymity in Challenge to Federal Vaccination Mandate

#State #Trooper #Suing #Andrew #Cuomo #Harassment #Pseudonymous #Case #quotHighProfilequot

The public generally has a right to access court records, including in civil cases—a right that is intended to “protect[] the public’s ability to oversee and monitor the workings of the Judicial Branch.” And this right extends to knowing the names of the parties:

[L]awsuits are public events and the public has a legitimate interest in knowing the facts involved in them. Among the facts is the identity of the parties. We think that as a matter of policy the identity of the parties to a lawsuit should not be concealed except in the unusual case.

“The Court is a public institution and the public has a right to look over our shoulders and see who is seeking relief in public court.” (All quotes are from various federal court opinions on the subject; for citations and more, see here.)

Such access to parties’ names is of course also important so that reporters, researchers, activists, and others can investigate the backstory behind a case, and behind the credibility of the parties. (Have they brought similar claims before? Is there reason to especially trust or doubt their assertions? What can their acquaintances and coworkers report about the supposed underlying incidents?) The richest news stories about lawsuits, of course, come not from just covering the filed documents, but by exploring this sort of backstory. And because the right here is a right of the public, the defendant’s agreeing to a plaintiff’s pseudonymous request (which is what happened in this case) isn’t enough to defeat the right.

This having been said, courts do sometimes allow pseudonymous litigation. It’s particularly common in purely legal challenges (e.g., Roe v. Wade), where the identity of the party is largely beside the point; and it also sometimes arises when a lawsuit is over matters “of the utmost intimacy,” such as abortion, transgender status, and the like.

This brings us to Trooper 1 v. N.Y. State Police, decided Thursday by Magistrate Judge Taryn Merkl (E.D.N.Y.):

On February 17, 2022, Trooper 1 …, a member of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Protective Service Unit, initiated this action alleging that former Governor Cuomo sexually harassed her and other state employees. The complaint names as Defendants the New York State Police … former Governor Andrew Cuomo …, Melissa DeRosa …, and Richard Azzopardi …. Plaintiff is claiming, among other things, discrimination and retaliation in violation of the federal Equal Protection Clause, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law….

The alleged sexual harassment was:

He then sexually harassed her. He commented on her appearance (“why don’t you wear a dress?”); wanted to kiss her (“[c]an I kiss you?”); asked her to find him a girlfriend who could “handle pain;” and steered their conversations towards sex (“[w]hy would you want to get married? … your sex drive goes down”). As with his other victims, the Governor used his physical proximity to Trooper 1 to touch her inappropriately (“he runs his finger down the center of my back of my spine, basically from the top of my neck, basically midway down with his pointer finger and just said, ‘Hey, you’”).

The court noted that the case was about “sexual harassment, which courts have found to be ‘highly sensitive and of an extremely personal nature’” (citing one case, which had also involved allegations of sexual assault), and concluded that this “favors granting Plaintiff’s motion.” But most of the analysis focused on how much attention the case was likely to draw:

Generally speaking, “‘the potential for embarrassment or public humiliation does not, without more, justify a request for anonymity.’” Courts often require “more direct evidence linking disclosure of [a plaintiff’s] name to a specific physical or mental injury.” … [But] in light of the allegations contained in the complaint and the high-profile nature of the case, “[h]aving the plaintiff’s name in the public domain, especially in the Internet age, could subject the plaintiff to future unnecessary interrogation, criticism, or psychological trauma, as a result of bringing this case.” As a result, the Court finds that a “chilling effect” could result from Plaintiff’s being required to reveal her identity, which weighs in favor of permitting Plaintiff to continue anonymously….

As for whether “the public’s interest in the litigation is furthered” by requiring Plaintiff to disclose her identity, the Court finds that this factor also tilts toward Plaintiff….

[W]hen a plaintiff challenges governmental or pseudogovernmental action, the judicial process serves as a significant check on abuse of public power. Thus, as the courts have noted, it is in the public interest that the price of access to the courts not be too high. Where litigants risk public scorn or even retaliation if their identities are made public, unpopular but valid complaints may not be pursued. The value of open proceedings disappears when there are no proceedings to be had.

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Here, the Court finds that there is a substantial public interest in the litigation, and that this is a case where the price of access to the courts should “not be too high.” …

[T]he Court [also] does not find any alternative mechanisms for protecting Plaintiff’s confidentiality in this case given the high level of interest the public and media would certainly have in Plaintiff given the nature of the allegations set forth in the Amended Complaint….

Plaintiff’s motion to proceed using a pseudonym … [is therefore] granted without prejudice to Defendants to revisit this issue before trial.

This, it seems to me, well illustrates just how inconsistent federal district courts are on this question.

[1.] First, courts are sharply split even on whether to allow pseudonymity to people suing claiming they have been sexually assaulted (see Appendices 2a & 2b). They are also generally skeptical of such pseudonymity when the allegation is of sexual harassment short of assault. (I cite many examples in my article.) This is evident, for instance, in the fact that all the Supreme Court’s sexual harassment cases have been nonpseudonymous (except Davis as next friend of LaShonda D. v. Monroe County Bd. of Educ., in which LaShonda D.’s full name wasn’t included because she was a minor). And the one case that the Trooper opinion cites supporting pseudonymity for sexual harassment cases actually also involved sexual assault.

At the same time, there are some cases that do allow pseudonymity as to allegations of sexual harassment. The case that Trooper cited did seem to speak broadly about the private nature of sexual harassment and not just sexual assault; and a few other cases have taken a similar view. We see similar disagreements in the lower court cases as to nearly all the other categories of personal information that lead litigants to seek pseudonymity, such as having had abortions, being gay or lesbian, and so on.

[2.] But more importantly, courts are split on whether public interest in the case cuts in favor of pseudonymity or against. For instance, Doe v. Megless (3d Cir. 2011), says that the case for public access is strengthened when

because of the subject matter of this litigation, the status of the litigant as a public figure, or otherwise, there is a particularly strong interest in knowing the litigant’s identities, beyond the public’s interest which is normally obtained.

More than 60 cases cite this, including nine outside the Third Circuit. And other cases take a similar view, e.g., “the fact that this case may have gained media and community attention is reflective of why the public interest in open judicial proceedings should be respected.”

At the same time, some courts do view public interest in a lawsuit as cutting against naming the parties, because they are concerned that the publicity may increase the intrusion on parties’ privacy and damage to their reputation. (Again, I cite examples in my article.)

[3.] The court also concludes that the fact that a claim is against the government cuts in favor of pseudonymity:

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Generally, in suits against the government, a plaintiff’s interest in anonymity is “particularly strong,” as institutional defendants are less likely to be prejudiced by a plaintiff’s anonymity. EW v. New York Blood Ctr., 213 F.R.D. 108, 111 (E.D.N.Y. 2003); see also North Jersey Media Group Inc. v. Doe Nos. 1-5, No. 12-CV-6152 (VM) (KNF), 2012 WL 5899331, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 26, 2012) (finding that suits against the government “involve no injury to the Government’s reputation” (quotation marks omitted)).

And other cases do take this view. But still other cases conclude that when a claim is against the government, that cuts against pseudonymity, because they involve a “claim to relief [that] involves the use of public funds, and the public certainly has a valid interest in knowing how state revenues are spent,” especially when plaintiff makes serious charges of misconduct by government officials.  Other courts likewise note that the interest in openness “is heightened because Defendants are public officials and government bodies.” “The public has a strong interest in knowing the accusations against its tax-funded entities as well as the identities of the individuals making those accusations…. The public’s interest … weighs heavily against anonymity because the defendants are public servants who stand accused of a gross abuse of power.”

Now there are definitely plausible reasons in favor of pseudonymity, as well as against, including that the fear of publicity, embarrassment, and reputational damage could lead plaintiffs not to file even meritorious lawsuits, and can thus lead to underenforcement of the law. On balance, I think that the value of public supervision of court proceedings overcomes those concerns, but one can certainly debate that.

But whatever the right solution should be, I think we need something better than the current system, where the decisions are inconsistent because they are left largely to the predilections of the district court judge whom you happen to draw, with little real law created by appellate courts (beyond multi-factor balancing tests, which do little to really constrain district court discretion).

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Exclusive: Chuck Schumer Kicks Off Reconciliation Package – TalkOfNews.com

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Compelling Television

#Chuck #Schumer #Kicks #Reconciliation #Package

Punchbowl News: “Schumer will submit text today to the Senate parliamentarian reflecting an agreement among all Democrats – including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) – to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs. The parliamentarian will then begin the ‘Byrd Bath’ review process to make sure the proposal conforms with the Senate’s arcane reconciliation rules.”

“At this point, the rest of the package – informally dubbed Build Back Manchin – is up in the air. This is the low hanging fruit. Manchin has always supported this policy, as do 49 other Senate Democrats. So Schumer is starting with the lowest common denominator.”

“But this is a big deal. It represents the first formal step in reviving a new reconciliation bill for possible floor action. And Schumer is taking a risk by making this official. The top issue for Senate Democrats and the White House this month now becomes whether they can get a deal. So there’s a lot riding on this for Schumer, Manchin and President Joe Biden.”

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Exclusive: Dr. Ben Carson Defends Clarence Thomas From Attacks By Hillary: For Liberals ‘Only Thing Worse Than Satan is a Black Conservative’ – TalkOfNews.com

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Dr. Ben Carson Defends Clarence Thomas From Attacks By Hillary: For Liberals ‘Only Thing Worse Than Satan is a Black Conservative’

#Ben #Carson #Defends #Clarence #Thomas #Attacks #Hillary #Liberals #Worse #Satan #Black #Conservative

Dr. Ben Carson responded to racially-tinged criticism from Hillary Clinton directed at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, suggesting the only thing liberals despise more than Satan is “a black conservative.”

Carson made his comments in an interview with Fox News host Matha MacCallum.

MacCallum aired a montage of criticisms against Thomas, mostly by so-called comedians, and delivered with a particular level of vitriol since the Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, for the doctor to respond.

At the end of the clip was a segment from a recent interview with former First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Clinton shockingly launched a personal attack against Thomas, the only black man sitting on the Supreme Court, saying she has always known him to be “angry” and a “person of grievance.”

RELATED: Bitter Hillary Clinton Blasts Justice Clarence Thomas As ‘Angry’ Person ‘Of Grievance’

Ben Carson Defends Clarence Thomas

Dr. Ben Carson responded to Hillary’s comments about Clarence Thomas, along with the personal attacks coming from bitter leftists, saying they were “nothing particularly surprising.”

He proceeded to eviscerate liberals as only a world-renowned neurosurgeon and former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University could.

“For many on the left, the only thing worse than Satan is a black conservative,” he fired back. “They feel that Clarence Thomas is ripe for particular scorn because he is black and he’s supposed to think a certain way.”

As for Hillary’s controversial comments on Thomas, Carson vehemently denied her accusations.

“I’ve known Clarence Thomas for decades. I don’t find him to be that way at all,” he replied.

The former Republican presidential candidate pointed out he and Thomas are members of the Horatio Alger Society, where he is admired “not because he is a Supreme Court justice, but because of his personality.”

“He’s a perfect example of what my mother used to tell me,” he added.

“She would say, Benjamin, if you walk into an auditorium full of racist, bigoted people, you don’t have a problem. They have a problem because they’re all going to cringe and wonder if you’re going to sit next to them, whereas you can sit anywhere you want.”

Hillary right now is cringing and hoping she never has to sit next to Clarence Thomas.

RELATED: Ben Carson’s Letter to Maxine Waters Obliterates Her For ‘Shamelessness’

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Carson’s Not Afraid to Call Out Extremists on the Left

Carson also pointed out that Thomas certainly isn’t going to let others’ “grievances, and prejudices, and hatred to affect his life.”

The good doctor has a history of knocking leftists down a peg or two using the most gentle and softspoken of approaches.

As HUD Secretary, Carson penned a letter to Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) accusing her of “shamelessness” and lacking in “basic manners.”

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tried to mock Carson over his appearance at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in 2019 saying, “Not sure he was fully awake.”

Carson fired back with an epic tweet in which he stacked his career credentials against hers.

“I know what it’s like to actually be sleepy, especially after 18-hour surgeries and operating on babies in the womb,” Carson replied, noting that Omar and her Democrat colleagues don’t view unborn babies “as having a right to life.”

As for Thomas, George Washington University has recently dashed the dreams of intolerant liberals who sought to get him fired from his job there as an adjunct professor.

“Because we steadfastly support the robust exchange of ideas and deliberation, and because debate is an essential part of our university’s academic and educational mission to train future leaders who are prepared to address the world’s most urgent problems, the university will neither terminate Justice Thomas’ employment nor cancel his class in response to his legal opinions,” the University responded.

Perhaps if they weren’t such angry people full of grievance, they’d come to accept Thomas as the admirable, intelligent man that Carson knows.

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Exclusive: Florida county slaps warning label on LGBTQ kids who join phys ed classes or overnight trips – TalkOfNews.com

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MARCH 09: Anasofia Pelaez and Kimberly Blandon (L-R) protest in front of Florida State Senator Ileana Garcia's (FL-R) office after the passage of the Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill by LGBTQ activists on March 09, 2022 in Miami, Florida.  The bill passed by the Florida Senate and House would limit what classrooms can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

#Florida #county #slaps #warning #label #LGBTQ #kids #join #phys #classes #overnight #trips

What drew the most debate was a provision that a school will notify parents — by form — if a student who is “open about their gender identity” is in a physical education class or on an overnight trip.

Some teachers and students during the Tuesday night meeting said the policy will “out” LGBTQ+ students — revealing their sexual orientation or gender identity without their permission.

Everyone got that? LGBTQ kids are a danger to your kids because they’re different. And we can’t have that!

Of course, Florida decided to officially get into the bully kids business when Ron DeSantis, the dude who put the goober in gubernatorial, decided to sign the state’s vicious Don’t Say Gay bill, which can only be described as a hammer blow to LGBTQ kids’ self-esteem.

Needless to say, not everyone was pleased with Leon County’s cruel tack.

“The notification to all the parents can create a very stressful and unwanted situation to trans and LGBTQ students,” Leon High School student Kailey Sandell said at the school board meeting, where the guide was approved 4-0. “A lot of times kids assume that kids are gay or trans; they will easily be able to hurt them.”

Lauren Kelly-Manders, a 34-year-old Tallahassee resident who sits on the city’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Council and came out while attending Leon High School, told the Tallahassee Democrat, “Sending out a parent notification could be seen as placing a target on a student’s back.”

Gee, ya think? What better way to reduce someone to second-class-citizen status than forcing them to come with a warning label?

Anyone who felt alienated or picked on in school knows how devastating this will be for these kids. While the guide does say that students’ sexual orientation and gender identity “should not be shared with others without their input and permission,” exactly how long will that hold up in this McCarthyist environment?

I can laugh off a lot, but conservatives are cutting to the bone now. This is flat-out nauseating. Let’s target some of our most vulnerable children in the most craven and lurid way imaginable, because ‘Merica!

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We are now the United States of Fuck You If You’re Not a White Cisgender Male. This cruelty has to stop. You know what to do.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.


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